Eight out of ten kids will tell you that science is cool and the coolest things about science are “explosions!” and “robots!” Only one kid with a runny nose said, “antibiotics!”
OK, we just made that up. But while it’s pretty obvious that science and technology are essential parts of our society, there is now a study by the National Science Foundation that proves that most Americans’ perception of science and scientists are actually favorable. Research also showed that they believe that the benefits outweigh the negatives when it comes to science and that technology will open more doors for future generations.
While people often don’t actively think about the fact that science is in our bodies, our bedrooms, our kitchens, our cars, it is. So it’s pretty important that Americans dig it. More than 1,500 people were surveyed on the matter and 2014 General Social Survey data was used for a biennial report presented to the POTUS and Congress by the National Science Board, “Science and Engineering Indicators.” One reason the survey is a big deal is because data is gathered through face-to-face interviews.
The lead researcher on the public perceptions part of the report is John Besley, associate professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations, who presented his findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. He noted that, according to a press release, “Americans are more likely to have ‘a great deal of confidence’ in leaders of the scientific community than leaders of any group other than the military.”
Besley also found that 80 percent of people surveyed believe that scientific research needs to be funded by the government, only four in 10 think it’s spending “too little,” and only one in 10 thought too much money was being spent on science. That person isn’t allowed on the internet anymore.
There were a few other eye openers from the GSS survey. Only half of the respondents are concerned about climate change. Half — think about that. Even so, most Americans do think that it’s important to focus on alternative energy sources. So, maybe there’s some hope for the future.